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What is Mindfulness? (including tips)

Written by Sophie

We hear the term ‘mindful’ a lot more now, and its increasingly being ear-marked as a growing trend and when you’re stressed or busy you can’t help but not want to pay attention to everything that’s around you…or feel that you don’t have time to embrace what mindfulness even means?!  In fact the thought of it may aggravate and stress you out more.

I thought it might be interesting to share my experience of a course in ‘mindfulness that I did’ and bring in some expert advice for those of you who are intrigued by the thinking behind mindfulness and some simple tips..

Last year I had a number of things going on and as someone who gets quite easily overwhelmed, I really found it hard to cope at points and in some moments found myself reacting in ways and having feelings that I didn’t recognise as ‘myself’.  Anyway….something needed to be done as a priority and that’s when I came across a course called ‘Being Mindful’ run by a lady called Tessa Watt who was extremely well-qualified, had vast experience including working in Parliament with politicians helping them to become ‘mindful’ as well as having written several books (including one called ‘Mindful London’).

I decided to sign up for the 8-week course, which felt like a big commitment at the time but it involved practising different techniques daily and a 2 hour session every week with a group.  I won’t go into too much detail about the content of the course, but here is the link if you are interested in finding out more: http://beingmindful.co.uk/about-the-course.html

Learning how to be ‘mindful’ has helped me an immense amount so I asked my mindful guru Tessa if she would share her top 5 tips for how to bring ‘mindfulness’ easily into your every day life…

Mindfulness of breathing

Practice 5 or 10 minutes of mindfulness of breathing. Take a wakeful, comfortable sitting posture and bring your attention to the movement of your breath in the body, wherever you feel it. You don’t have to change the way you’re breathing, just let the breath breathe itself naturally. Your mind will wander off and that’s normal – when you notice, gently bring your awareness back to the breath, as often as you need to. Being with your breath in this way each day provides an opportunity to be present, to slow down, reset and nurture your inner resources. 

Mindful eating

Try eating a meal mindfully, being aware of the tastes, textures and smells. See if you can put aside other activities such as reading the newspaper or watching TV, and be present with the act of eating.

Routine activity

Choose one routine activity in your daily life, bringing awareness to it each time you do it. It could be brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, taking a shower or making tea. Feel your body and notice physical sensations. See if you can be aware of what you are doing as you are actually doing it. 

Mindful walking

You could try walking meditation on your journey to work or to the shops, bringing awareness into the contact of your feet on the ground, and the movement of your legs and body. Each time you notice your mind has wandered off into thoughts, bring it gently back to the sensations in your feet.

Pause or breathing space

Whenever you remember, take just a few seconds to notice whatever is right here, right now. Your body, thoughts and emotions. The environment around you. Any sights, sounds or smells. Take a few mindful breaths, being aware of the movement of the breath in and out of your body. Then carry on. You could try using a trigger for this breathing space, such as a sound (siren, phone ringing) or an activity you do often (washing your hands, making coffee, waiting for a lift). Or whenever you feel overwhelmed you can return your awareness for a few moments to the breath as an anchor to bring you back to the present moment.

If you’re interested in reading more about ‘mindfulness’ then Tessa has written several books,  here are the links:

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Mindful London: How to find the calm and contentment in the chaos of the city

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Mindfulness: Your Step by Step Guide to a Happier Life